Tag Archives: animal rights

Unpleasant Truths vs Comforting Lies

Scientists use animals  in research to elucidate basic questions about biological function in health and disease.  Such basic research in the life sciences, like parallel studies in other fields of science, yields knowledge about nature.  Such knowledge, in turn, can be applied to a myriad of problems to alleviate suffering, improve our well-being, and make this a better world.  Our students at UCSF provide this wonderful example of how our work leads to progress and make a solid case for why the public and our government should support basic research:

In contrast, those that oppose the use of animals in medical research find comfort in lies. They deride the work as being “curiosity-driven research” that merely results in “knowledge for knowledge sake”.  They believe basic research is without any value at best, and fraudulent at worst.  In doing so, such activists highlight their lack of knowledge about science in general and about who scientists are as individuals.

Sadly, such grotesque views on basic research is just one of the many comforting lies that form a part of the animal-rights belief system which can be readily summarized in the following form:

comforting lies

To learn more about the role of animal research in advancing human and veterinary medicine, and the threat posed to this progress by the animal rights lobby, follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

More dishonesty about animal research from the Daily Mirror

Today the British tabloid newspaper the Daily Mirror published a truly execrable piece of animal rights propaganda dressed up as journalism, in an article attacking neuroscience research undertaken using cats at University College London. The article mischaracterized the two research projects, which were published in the Journal of Neurophysiology in 2012 and 2013,   from start to finish, and as you can see below included a litany of basic errors (or were they deliberate lies?). This is not the first time that the Mirror has got its story very, very wrong.

It’s interesting to see the source of the images of cats used in the report, as they tell you something about what is going on here.

The first image may seem familiar to some readers, as it is an image that PETA have used in a campaign against hearing research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison It is a campaign marked by a mixture of clever publicity and a willingness to distort and misrepresent the facts, and of course two independent investigations refuted PETA’s allegations.

The second image, also from PETA, shows a connector to a 10×10 silicon micro-electrode array first developed at the University of Utah in the late 1990’s, which later formed a key part of  the Braingate system. In 2012 the Braingate system enabled a woman named Jan Scheuermann, quadraplegic for over a decade due to a spinal  degenerative disease, to feed herself using a brain-machine interface that monitored her motor neuron activity and allowed her to manipulate a robotic arm and hand.

It’s worth noting that valuable to advancing medical science as the implants used in the UW-Madison and University of Utah research are, they were not used in the UCL research  that the Daily Mirror is attacking, but when has the Mirror ever let the facts (or truth) stand in the way of a good image*?

UCL has issued a statement on the use of cats in research, which concludes by saying:

Despite advances in non-animal methods it is still essential to use animals where no viable alternatives exist – for both the clinical science which directly informs medical treatments, as well as the basic science which, by advancing understanding of biological processes, is an important precursor to it. The earlier work carried out on cats provided an excellent understanding of how the visual system works. As a result, it is no longer necessary to use cats as the model for this type of work which is why it has been discontinued.

So here goes, a run through of what is  – hopefully – one of the worst pieces of yellow journalism that you’ll see this year.

cat story mirror

* The Mirror has a long history of distorting research to advance animal rights propaganda. In the late 1980’s they made false allegations against Professor Colin Blakemore of the University of Oxford, and were eventually forced to print a retraction.

Speaking of Research

To learn more about the role of animal research in advancing human and veterinary medicine, and the threat posed to this progress by the animal rights lobby, follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

Saving Life on Earth

recent petition asks 22 scientists, myself included, to “justify your science claims.”  So far it has collected slightly over 14,000 signatures. It was organized by a group called For Life on Earth (FLOE) which bases its opposition to the use of animals in medical research based on the writings of Dr. Ray Greek.
 
How do I justify my science?  
 
It is a strange question.  To start my science is no different from the one conducted by my colleagues  — whether a geologist or a physicist.  There is only one science. It is the one based on the notion that we can postulate how some aspect of nature works, make our ideas specific enough to generate testable predictions, and use experimental methods to put those hypothesis to the test. Concepts that are refuted by the data go into the pile of rejected ideas, those that survive are pursued further and, in some occasions, after many years, and with much community effort, they are refined to the point that the account for such a vast amount experimental outcomes that we refer to them as theories.  This scientific method has proven itself over and over again over centuries and has led to the many technological advancements you enjoy today.  Science is the crown jewel of human intellect and reason.
 
The questions life scientists ask differ form those working in other fields.  We are interested in seeking fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems.  How do cells work?  How do they communicate with each other? How do they develop and differentiate into different tissues and organs?  How do they die and why?  In my subfield of neuroscience we ask question related to how neurons work together to allow us to store and retrieve memories, plan and generate movements, visually recognize objects, make decisions, and so on.  These are all questions scientists not only find intellectually interesting, but there is wide consensus that such fundamental knowledge is critical to enhance the health, lengthen life, and reduce the cost of illness and disability in both humans and non-human animals. 
 
Unfortunately, at this point in time, our methods do not allow to pursue cellular and molecular-level questions non-invasively in human subjects, and this is why part of the work requires the use of animals in research. Accordingly, a recent poll by the journal Nature revealed that nearly 92% of scientists agree with the statement “animal research is essential to the advancement of biomedical science.” 
 
Any reasonable person would agree a mechanic would be in a better position to fix a car if s/he actually knows the role each part plays, how they fit together, and what can happen if one of them fails.  Similarly, any reasonable person must agree that we would be in a better position to develop therapies and cures if we knew exactly how living organisms work in health, and what happens to our cells and other organs in disease. 
 
In contrast, the petition attempts to refute this self-evident truth, arguing that some recent scientific results explain why animal research has no value whatsoever for human health:
 
As the history of landmark scientific advances clearly documents, the scientific breakthroughs are often produced by the dedicated work of enlightened individuals, such as Darwin who brought us the Theory of Evolution, Einstein who gave us the Theory of Relativity and Kenner, Lister and Semmelweis who all contributed to the Germ Theory of Disease.  Science has more recently delivered the Trans-Species Modeling Theory (TSMT)[1], which demonstrates how current understanding of evolutionary biology and complexity explain decades of practical examples, the results of which oppose using animal experiments to try and predict human responses in medical research and the safety testing of new human medicines.
So what exactly is this Trans-Species Modeling Theory that the petitioners list as a scientific achievement of comparable in significance to Evolution, Relativity and Germ Theory?   
 
I invite you to look it up. If you search for “Trans-Species Modeling Theory” in Pubmed you will find the term not mentioned even once. If you look up the article cited by the petition in Google Scholar you will see it was authored by animal rights activists Dr. Ray Greek and Lawrence Hansen and cited a total of 5 times, not once in peered-review scientific articles. All citations are from web sites, including one from the petition itself (which, I have to say, appears written by Dr. Greek himself.)
 
We are also directed by FLOE to read what is supposed to be Dr. Greek’s seminal work — a book entitled “Animal models in light of evolution”. The book has been cited a total of 42 times. Not impressive. Even less when you consider 28 are self-citations from Dr. Greek himself; 5 come from animal rights activists who have been Greek’s co-authors; and the rest is from a handful of other authors, including myself which speak about the book in not very positive terms.
The FLOE web site shows Greek's book next to Darwin's "On the Origin of Species."  One if science, they other is not.  Can you tell which one is which?

The FLOE web-site shows Greek’s book next to Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species.” Works of comparable significance?  I don’t think so.

Let it be clear that contrary to what the petition says, science did not deliver Trans-Species Modeling Theory — a couple of animal rights activists did.  And it is not a theory of anything, but merely an opinion. To list Trans-Species Modeling Theory in the same sentence as Evolution and Relativity is a cruel joke on science.  At least, whoever wrote the petition, had the decency to spare us the pain of seeing the names of animal rights cranks listed among those of Darwin and Einstein.  
 
There is another reveling passage in the petition.  It refers to the use of animals in basic research as using them to gain “knowledge for knowledge sake,”  as if somehow such knowledge had no consequence whatsoever to the improvement of human health.  Such statement illustrates the ignorance of the petitioners about how science works.  When we talk about applied science, what is applied is knowledge.  You can even find this fact embedded in the opening words of the mission of the NIH, which is “to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability.”
 
Lastly, the central question the petition tries to isolate and eager to debate is meaningless. Animals are used in medical research by formulating a hypothesis about a disease of interest, trying to recreate the disease in animal subjects, studying the basic mechanisms involved, and developing new methods to interfere or stop the development of the disease in humans.  When any one such attempt fails, it is a grave mistake to see it as a failure of science or as a general failure of the use of animals in research. It is simply a sign we failed to correctly capture all the relevant processes that take place in the human condition. Such failures are an integral part of the scientific process, as they narrow the space of possible solutions and will lead you to the accurate model.  Medical history has shown time and again that such process can, over the objections of animal rights activists, lead to a fruitful completion and save millions of human and animal lives.  
The work is justified because it saves lives on Earth.
Note: for other valid points see David Gorski’s response.

Gary Francione: “I don’t believe in vaccinations”

We previously discussed the anti-vaccination stance of a member of the animal rights group “Progress for Science”.  The fact that this individual prefers oregano oil, ginger, garlic, and other herbs over vaccines did not come as a surprise.  We have already noted the strong similarities between the arguments espoused by the anti-vaccination and animal rights groups.  But you may be asking yourself — just how prevalent is the view among animal rights activists? It turns out the position can be traced all the way up to prominent academics, such a Professor Gary Francione:

Yes, you heard right (play it again if in doubt) — Rutgers Law Professor Gary Francione does not believe in vaccinations. He is not alone.  The exuberant applause he receives comes from animal rights supporters in the audience, and you can easily judge there are no shortage of them.

How could this be? You would think that any reasonable person who looks at the data ought to conclude that childhood vaccinations do in fact work and that, without any shred of doubt whatsoever, they save thousands and thousands of human (and animal) lives each year.

Take a look at the incidence of measles and diphtheria over the last decades, for example, and notice how the numbers drop precipitously as vaccines for these illnesses were introduced. You can find similar graphs for many other common diseases.

vaccines

If Professor Francione had any children he would not vaccinate them.  What about those who have children?  Does he truly understand what would happen if the public were to follow his recommendation?  The data say that millions would die each year.

It is shocking that a respected scholar offers a view that is nothing short of a pubic health hazard. It is mind-boggling that anyone who calls himself compassionate would put the lives of so many children at risk.  What kind of meaningful ethical discussion can one possibly have with those who blatantly reject scientific facts and deny past contributions of the work to human health?

One must also recognize there is something ludicrous about the entire situation.  On one hand, many animal rights activists deny the benefits of animal research.  On the other, they work extremely hard to argue they should be entitled to the benefits of the very same work they oppose.

Thus, we see hear Professor Francione say he does not believe in vaccinations (and other pharmaceuticals?) and but elsewhere he writes —

[…] Those who object to animal use for [animal research], however, have no control as individuals over government regulations or corporate policies concerning animals. To say that they cannot consistently criticize the actions of government or industry while they derive benefits from these actions, over which they have no control, is absurd as a matter of logic. (Francione 1995, 181).

No, it is not absurd. While it is true he may not have control over government actions or policies he does have control over his healthcare and that of his family.  In fact, he exemplified for us how he would exercise that control by not vaccinating his children.

Consider the following analogy. Suppose you are a social activist who forcefully opposes child and forced labor practices.  You discover that a particular US company manufactures its products overseas under deplorable labor conditions. Would you still buy form such a company or boycott its products? Is there any way in which you can say that you morally oppose forced labor but argue you are nevertheless entitled to benefit from the cheap prices the company has to offer? If you were to buy from such a company can you be surprised if someone called you a called a hypocrite?  After all, would be supporting, financing and perpetuating a practice you consider immoral and advocate against.  It makes sense to argue the same applies to animal research.

Many animal rights activists may respond the analogy is not adequate because, in the case of refusing healthcare derived from animal research, the outcome may include death, instead of the more mundane consequence of not purchasing the latest smart phone.  This would be a curious argument coming from those who fail to acknowledge the benefits of the research in the first place. Nevertheless, in objecting in such a way they would be making our case — animal research saves lives.  Herein lies the moral dilemma opponents of research who refuse to confront even when it is their own lives that are saved by the work of biomedical researchers.

To learn more about the role of animal research in advancing human and veterinary medicine, and the threat posed to this progress by the animal rights lobby, follow us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/SpeakingofResearch

The Science and Medicine of “Progress for Science”

The animal rights group “Progress for Science” (P4S) made one more appearance last night to harass a UCLA professor at his home. Don’t let their name fool you.  The consequences of P4S’s advocacy are backwardness and regression.  To advocate for science you must be familiar with it;  to advocate for progress you must understand medical history.  But it does not take much digging to discover just how detached from facts and science their beliefs really are.  Take for example their views on vaccinations:

Amy Nicole

There is absolutely nothing progressive or pro-science about being anti-vaccination. Those who, despite the evidence, continue to advocate against childhood vaccinations are nothing short of a public health hazard who have directly contributed to a rise in avoidable disease and death in our state and elsewhere.  Such groups are not pro-science.  Instead, they have the features of a cult.  

Another commonly held view among animal rights activists is that one’s diet is the source of all maladies and that a vegan diet is an effective remedy to many of them. There is no doubt that science supports the view that eating a good, balanced diet and getting a daily dose of physical exercise are integral components to a healthy life.  But disease, it turns out, can strike at any point in time, in ways you cannot anticipate or prevent.

So what happens when a healthy, young vegan gets sick with… say gallbladder stones?  Do they immediately reach for the oregano oil or yerba santa?  Perhaps ginger or cayenne will do the trick?  Or maybe they will follow the recommendation to use dandelion and milk thistle?

There is no need to ask the hypothetical question, because one can easily discover what P4S member Sarah Jane Hardt did.  Despite her vegan diet, she developed gallbladder stones, and the pain seemed to have been intolerable.  What did she do?  She decided to set aside all her personal beliefs about biomedical research and went to the hospital for surgery —

img2.001

I would bet she does not have much knowledge about how cholecystectomies (the surgery she received) were initially developed.  As it happens, it was a naval surgeon named Herlin who first performed the procedure in cats and dogs, leading him to famously conclude:

One can remove the gallbladder without great danger, and this discovery opens the way to a safe approach to stones collected in the gallbladder or impacted in the biliary ducts where they often produce fatal complications”.

In other words, this adamant opponent of the use of animals in research was treated with surgical techniques that were developed as a direct consequence of the work she opposes. Experimental studies on gallbladder surgery are still performed on animals, to this very day, in order to improve the prognosis of individuals that receive the surgery.

So Sarah Jane Hardt can today have a good night.  Thanks to animal research.

Imagine that!

It is doubtful any other member of P4S would act in any other way. They raise no objections when they are the direct beneficiaries of animal research, but they outrageously claim it is compassionate for them to deny the benefits of today’s research to others, including our children and grandchildren.  No, it is not compassionate. Their point of view is nothing short of cruel.

Additional insight into Sarah Jane Hardt’s beliefs are revealed in a view of medical profession that she posted a few days after her surgery regarding the ability of physicians to provide advise on nutrition and diet:

imgg.002

However, at the same time, she had no trouble at all swallowing the other pills the doctor prescribed:

imgg.004

Funny…  Topping all this, Ms. Hardt and her friends also had the ethical chutzpah to suggest that UCLA Professor David Jentsch, against who they demonstrate, had firebombed his own car, instead of accepting the claim of responsibility made openly by the Animal Liberation Brigade.  

imgg.001

Progress for Science has made it clear they cannot find it in themselves to condemn the violence of the animal rights movement.  Carol Glasser, the group’s founder, said:

Whatever we are doing as a movement is not working, it is not saving animal lives. I think it is a waste of our time to demonize people who put their own life, their own  safety, their own health, and their own freedom at risk, because they can’t imagine another way to help the animals.  It is total bullshit of us, to point a finger and demonize them.

Not only do they refuse to condemn those that firebomb cars or homes, but they publicly offer support to convicted animal rights arsonists.  Here is Tyler Lang, another member of the group, offering support for two of them:

imgg.005

Members of “Progress for Science” masquerade  themselves as peaceful, compassionate, pacifists, and pro-science.

Nothing is further from the truth.

They are scientifically illiterate, cheerleaders of violence, cruel, anti-science and, obviously, dishonest.

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Update: More discussion from David Jentsch here.


To learn more about the role of animal research in advancing human and veterinary medicine, and the threat posed to this progress by the animal rights lobby, follow us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/SpeakingofResearch

Myth Busting: “Penicillin is toxic in guinea pigs but not to humans”

“Penicillin is toxic in guinea pigs but not to humans”

“Had they chosen to test penicillin on hamsters or guinea pigs, it is likely that it would have been discarded

Taken on face value the statements above are true – penicillin is toxic to guinea pigs (1). The trouble comes when this is used as evidence that humans and animals do not have the same reactions to medicines

The short answer is that penicillin reacts similarly in humans as it does in almost every mammal – it fights bacterial infection inside the body. This is why penicillin is widely used in veterinary medicine. Indeed the discovery of the medical uses of penicillin depended on research on mice. Guinea pigs are one of the few species which have a significant adverse reaction to the drug, and activists have picked on it to suggest that animal research doesn’t work. This is wrong. Our understanding of animals helps us both understand why penicillin is dangerous to guinea pigs, and why we would not test penicillin on them to assess human safety.

The reasons why guinea pigs differ in their reactions from most other mammalian species are very specific. Unlike most other mammals (including humans), the intestinal flora of Guinea Pigs consists of mostly gram-positive bacteria. Overgrowth of Gram-negative bacteria such as coliforms and Gram-positive clostridial organisms such as C. difficile can result in diarrhoea and death (2). Antibiotics which strongly affect Gram-positive bacteria, such as penicillin, are therefore toxic to guinea pigs (3). Further studies have shown a number of antibiotics which, while relatively non-toxic in humans, mice, rats, rabbits and other laboratory animals, remain highly toxic for guinea pigs and hamsters, both of which have predominantly gram-positive intestinal flora bacteria (4).

It is important to note that while humans are less sensitive to antibiotic toxicity than guinea-pigs, C. difficile associated colitis following antibiotic treatment is a serious problem in clinical practice that hospitals need to be aware of and take measures to prevent.

Guinea Pig in Laboratory

The fundamental point is that toxicity test subjects are not randomly selected. Our understanding of guinea pigs (developed through prior animal research) means we know that they make a bad test subject for antibiotics. Species selection is important in toxicology – pharmaceuticals have no interest trying to move “bad” drugs into clinical trials as it is dangerous and costly to do so. They pick the animal models which will be expected to replicate human reactions most closely for any given chemical. It is also standard practise to test in multiple species to improve the accuracy of predicting human toxicity from animal models.

In reality, Penicillin is a good example of showing the similarity of humans and most animals. Penicillin is given to a wide range of animal species including cats, dogs, horses, poultry, sheep, cattle, pigs, and many more. Indeed, mice were key to the discovery of penicillin. After Fleming’s discovery of penicillin in 1928, the compound was not used as scientists were not aware of its potential to fight infection inside the body. The effectiveness of penicillin was found by Florey and Chain (who shared the Nobel Prize with Fleming) from a simple mouse safety test:

By 25 May 1940, the team had reached a point where they could carry out a new experiment that would test whether penicillin could be an important antibacterial drug. Eight mice were given lethal doses of streptococci. Four of the mice were then given injections of penicillin. By the next morning all the untreated mice were dead while those that had received penicillin survived for days to weeks.

With this result, Florey realised that he needed to expand production – an effective treatment for infection could be a valuable contribution to Britain’s war effort.

To return to the original question – penicillin may be toxic to guinea pigs and beneficial to humans, but scientists would not test penicillin in a guinea pig because they could predict beforehand that it would not be an accurate animal model to use. Moreover, penicillin has the same beneficial effect in most mammals as it does in humans, reinforcing the biological similarities across species that make animal research an important part of medical science.

Speaking of Research

(1)    Hauduroy, P., and Rosset, W.. Ann Int Pasteur., 75, 67 (1948)
(2)    Heidi Hoefer DVM, ABVP, Common Problems in Guinea Pigs (Atlantic Coast Veterinary Conference 2001)
(3)    Farrar, E., Kent, T., and Elliott, V., Lethal Gram-Negative Bacterial Superinfection in Guinea Pigs given Bacitracin in Journal of Bacteriology, 92 (2), 1996
(4)    Green, R., The Association of Viral Activation with Penicillin Toxicity in Guinea Pigs and Hamsters, in Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, 3 166-181, 1974

To learn more about the role of animal research in advancing human and veterinary medicine, and the threat posed to this progress by the animal rights lobby, follow us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/SpeakingofResearch

An open letter to those who support violence in the name of animal rights


The following is an open letter from a victim of animal rights extremism.  It was sent to a Los Angeles Times journalist in an effort to draw his attention to the problem. The letter was never published. Her family, not connected to animal research, was the mistaken target of the Animal Liberation Front attack on a UCLA scientist (ALF’s claim of responsibility here). Her personal account of the story, written only days after the firebombing, makes it very clear how close animal right extremists came to hurting human beings in their pursuit of their political goals. These is the kind “direct action” celebrated by animal rights fanatics that demonstrate at the homes of UCLA scientists. The truth is, as the writer notes, that this nothing short of terrorism. For fear of retaliation from animal rights extremists, the author wishes to remain anonymous.

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An open letter to those who support violence in the name of animal rights

For those of you who support violence because you are tired of waiting for the rest of us to accept your views, how exactly are your actions going to convince us to care more about the rights of non-human animals?

Three days ago, at 4 o‘clock in the morning, someone poured gasoline over my car (on the gas tank side) and set it on fire. It was parked in the driveway one foot away from my house, under a tree.  We don’t know if this was done in the name of animal rights, but after looking at websites and learning of similar actions taken against researchers and innocent bystanders, it is a reasonable guess.   My family is connected to UCLA, although none of us have anything to do with scientific research, other than having benefitted from life-saving medications and surgeries in the past.

The sound of the exploding burning tire woke my neighbors, two of whom acted quickly to prevent the worst from happening.  My two cars are total losses, my neighbors’ two cars are damaged, and a neighborhood is terrorized.  The ripples of fear and outrage spread far beyond our street, to our families, friends and colleagues at work.

What might have happened? Without quick action by my neighbors, the gas tank in my car could have exploded, killing or maiming my teenage daughter sleeping 15 feet away.  She has been a vegetarian since age 8, as are many of her friends, since they grew up watching “The Simpsons’ and wanted to be like Lisa Simpson who is smart, vegetarian, a saxophone player who challenges authority.   A roommate closer to the driveway would have suffered the same fate.  It was 4 in the morning; we were all sleeping.  This is ‘attempted murder’ not just ‘property damage’. Someone tried to kill us.

goran_lacan_attempt

Maybe you don’t care at all about the human side of this story.  You might classify the horrors that could have happened in my family as ‘collateral damage’ the same callous way our government labels civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, and elsewhere around the world.  How does that kind of thinking advance the cause of the animal rights movement? After all, you are trying to influence other human beings to change their ways and care about the rights of animals, correct?  This doesn’t seem the optimal way to win hearts and minds.  Your approach seems more like ‘destroy the village to save it’ as our government practiced in Viet Nam in the 1960s and 70s.

Maybe you care only about animals.  Did the persons who firebombed my car know about my rescued house rabbit, Samsonita, sleeping in my house 25 feet from the car, who lives cage free in her own room?  Did they know about my cat, Ethel, who worked hard every night in the neighborhood to find rats and mice to lovingly bring them inside to share with me in the middle of the night?

Some of the animal rights websites claim that they are part of a proud tradition of liberation movements.  There are quotes from Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Frederick Douglass, and claims of being the ‘Underground Railway’ for animals.  But the violent harassment of medical researchers is more like the terror practiced by the Ku Klux Klan, who burned crosses in front of the homes of African Americans who dared to act as if they were free and equal to whites.  These kinds of tactics were used not by civil rights activists but by their opponents, and any claim of a moral relationship to that history by violent animal rights advocates is obscene.

I ask you to reconsider your support for violence in the name of your cause, animal rights.  Please think about other kinds of terrorism we have experienced in recent years.  How did you feel about the events of September 11th? Were you horrified, or did you think that everyone harmed, and all their friends and relatives, deserved what happened?  What about the bus bombing in London, or the nightclub in Bali, the trains in Madrid, the slaughter in Mumbai?  Do you support those actions, because the bombers believed in their cause, as you believe in yours?  Or do you disagree with their approach?

Either way, if you believe it is ok to commit violence in the name of your cause and harm innocent sentient beings, how are you are different from those terrorists?  Around the world, millions of people suffer from violence committed in the name of a cause, by government soldiers or rebels or saboteurs.  How does this make the world a better place?  How are you convincing other human beings to care more about the rights of animals by committing and applauding violence?

What would you do?

We understand.

There is a segment of the population that opposes the use of animals in medical research and basic science.  Their reasons vary.  Some think all sentient beings ought to have the same basic right to life and freedom as any other human being. Some believe that the work amounts to scientific fraud and cannot possibly lead to any advancements in the health of humans. Some argue that illness is merely a product personal choices. In most cases, it is a combination of all of the above.

Of course, we disagree.

So what have we done about it?

We made the effort to open up dialogue and bring both sides of this important debate to the court of public opinion.  In 2010 Drs. David Jentsch and Dario Ringach, along the student group Bruins for Animals, organized a discussion panel at UCLA that many welcomed as a good first step at establishing some sort of meaningful debate.

In 2011, Dario Ringach and Robert C. Jones (an animal rights philosopher from California State University at Chico and a participant in the our 2010 discussion panel), organized a one-day symposium at UCLA on the similarities and dissimilarities of human and non-human primate cognition (video here).

Dr. Ringach participated in two public debates on the use of animals in research.  The first one at the Institute for Human Values in Health Care at the Medical University of South Carolina, where he debated animal rights philosopher Dr. Nathan Nobis.  A second debate took place at Rutgers Law School, where he debated animal rights scholar Prof. Gary Francione.

In 2013, Dr. Ringach also participated in the UW Forum on Animal Research Ethics that aims to provide a platform for all sides to share their views with the public.  He also published an article about the ethics and science of animal research and contributed a chapter to a book that describes the position of both sides.

After accepting an invitation to speak at a local high school, Dr. Ringach brought along animal rights philosopher Robert C. Jones to present to opposing view.  Their shared goal was to educate children that we can have a civil debate about moral disputes in our society.

And on top of all that, our strong commitment to providing the opposing side a platform to express themselves in public continued throughout a deplorable campaign against researchers that included threats, intimidation, and calls for violence by animal rights extremists.  Nefariously, our efforts were replied with increased “home visits” that clearly have no other purpose than to harass those they disagree with.

What would you do to stop the relentless attacks on your family and home? What kind of support would you want and expect from your community, professional societies, home institution and the government?

After more than 10 years of a sustained campaign animal right extremists left us with no options but to personally protect ourselves from their disgraceful behavior.  It was regrettable that, on our first attempt, one person within our group was overwhelmed with anger resulting from over a decade of mistreatment from animal extremism and acted in ways we do not approve of.

Our stated goal clearly was, and still remains, to peacefully prevent animal rights thugs from conducting orchestrated campaigns of harassment against the UCLA family.  We wanted to convey that message clearly to all our supporters.  Having said that, one must not let the bullies who openly support violence as a legitimate method to advance their cause to pretend they are the victims.

It is then for all the above reasons that we will gather once again on Saturday Feb 15th at 10:15am, in the Lobby of Franz Hall, at UCLA to defend the tranquility of our homes, families and neighbors from fanatics whose sole goal is to resolve their moral dispute by violence and force.  We will join hands and be proud of the fantastic science done at UCLA and in universities across the country in the name of society.  Work that will improve the well-being of humans and animals alike.

David Jentsch and Dario Ringach